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Home > Cats > Why Are Kittens So Cute? What Science Tells Us

Why Are Kittens So Cute? What Science Tells Us

Egyptian Mau kitten playing on a white blanket

Cat lovers may just naturally see kittens as one of the most adorable creatures on Earth. We may see them as cute without ever really questioning why. However, research shows that there may be some scientific reasons as to why we may think kittens are cute.

A kitten’s facial structure, soft coat, and small size may all cause people to find them to be cute. The cuteness of a kitten can even increase the probability of it finding safety because it can elicit feelings of affection and protectiveness from other animals, including human beings.


The Science Behind a Kitten’s Cuteness

Soft Fur

A kitten’s biological makeup and features may be responsible for its cuteness. Let’s start with its soft fur. Kittens tend to have softer coats than adult cats. Some studies have shown that primates like being in contact with soft textures and find them to be very pleasant. Softer textures encourage more petting. So, a kitten’s coat may elicit a very deep instinctual response from us that makes us just want to keep petting it.

three persian kittens with different fur colors
Image Credit: B.Stefanov, Shutterstock

Similarities to Human Babies

Humans may also find kittens to be cute because they share similar qualities to human babies. In general, humans have a strong instinct to nurture and protect their babies. If we find babies to be cute, we’re more likely to be drawn to protecting them.

Similar to human babies, kittens also have larger heads in proportion to their bodies. They have large, round eyes and can have round tummies.

Along with sharing physical qualities, both kittens and human babies can engage in similar actions and behaviors. Very young kittens are extremely vulnerable and dependent on their mothers, just like human infants. They will stumble around as they learn to walk, which can remind us of how toddlers also learn to walk.

Humans typically find certain traits to be adorable, and many of these traits seem to revolve around the face. Chubby cheeks, large eyes, a small nose and mouth, and a high forehead are all traits that many humans define as cute. Along with having cute facial features, people also find larger heads and rounder bodies to be cute.

Crying and Small Size

Kittens will cry for their mother’s milk, which can remind us of when human infants cry for their mothers. A kitten’s small size can reflect its vulnerability, and vulnerability often elicits a compassionate response from humans.

newborn kitten drinking milk from mother cat's nipple
Image Credit: Rembolle, Shutterstock

How to Admire a Kitten’s Cuteness Respectfully

While we may want to squeeze a cute kitten and pet it all day, it’s important to admire it respectfully. In general, kittens are used to being touched because their mothers would groom them with their tongues and guide them with nudges. So, you can get your kitten to become used to human touch if you handle them gently, as their mother would.

A kitten’s paws are fairly sensitive, and their stomachs are vulnerable areas. So, kittens may not particularly enjoy being petted in those areas. However, you can slowly get your kitten used to its paws being touched, which is very helpful when you have to clip or file its nails. You can do this by lightly touching your kitten’s paws and immediately rewarding it with a treat. Eventually, you’ll be able to increase the length of time of touching its paws in small increments. It’s important to make this interaction as positive as possible to prevent any negative experiences that will increase resistance.

Kittens can also be easily startled, so it’s important to speak to them in soft voices and refrain from squealing. Their cuteness can make this difficult, but kittens will prefer being spoken to quietly.



Overall, kittens’ appearances and behaviors seem to be designed to allow them to be viewed as cute by human beings. Cuteness can be lifesaving for young and vulnerable kittens that need a lot of protection from the outside world.

A kitten’s cuteness can be mutually beneficial as it receives attention and care, and we get to enjoy being around them and caring for them. So, don’t be shy in fawning over a kitten’s cuteness. It can be an enjoyable and beneficial experience for both the kitten and you.

Featured Image Credit: Anastasiia Chystokoliana, Shutterstock

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